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Why you need a Will or a Living Trust.

You have the right to decide who inherits from you!  

As an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney and  Probate Attorney,  I help my clients exercise their right to choose the beneficiaries of your Estate.  The way to do that is to put your wishes into a written document – usually a Will or a Living Trust that identifies the people who you choose to inherit from you. If you do not make a Will or a Living Trust, the California has rules for distributing your assets.  In my Probate work, I often see cases where someone did not execute a Will or a Trust (or did not use an Estate Planning Attorney to do it correctly).  In those cases,  the Probate Code will determine how your estate will be divided.  The statutes are not unfair.  However, as often as not, the statutes do not reflect the wishes of the person who died.

What do you need to do if you want your husband or wife to inherit from you?

Most people want their spouse to inherit all of their joint and separate property.  However, if you don’t have a Will or a Trust and have one child, your separate property will be divided equally between your spouse and your child; if you have two or more children, your spouse will receive a one-third interest and your children will divide the other two-thirds of your estate.

Are you separated, but not divorced?

If you and your spouse are separated, you may not want your spouse to inherit from you.  If you don’t have a Will, you are both treated as married and your estranged spouse will inherit from you.

Are you single with no children?

If you die without a Will, your assets will go to your next of kin whether you know them or not and whether you intended them to inherit or not.   Your estate does not automatically go to your siblings:  the law states that it goes to your parents children.  If you have a brother or sister, but your father had other children from another marriage (even if you never met them), your brother or sister will share the estate with your father’s other children.

Do you already have a Will?

Even with a Will, if you own a home or have an estate greater than $150,000, your estate will likely end up in Probate court. To avoid Probate, you should have a Living Trust. Your property and assets will be transferred to your intended heirs more quickly and easily.